Sunday, 15 August 2010

When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up

One of the best novels I've ever read became one of the best movies I ever saw : The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward. (1946)

Virginia, a young women, finds herself in an asylum. The knack of the novel is that the main character isn't aware of her condition and sometimes not even knows who the surrounding people are and if they are, who they claim to be. Virginia goes through serveral wards and has to go through miscellaneous treatments.

This story is generaly written in observant view, but changes every now and then into first person. There are leaps in time because the main character has

black outs, too.

The book was written in the 1940ies and the medical care differed a lot from that treatmant you would expect today.

The author Mary Jane Ward herself remained several times in mental health facilities, so that most of the events in this story should be based on her own experiences.
  • Side effects while reading the book: You could develope some abnormal behavioural pattern while/after reading - please let me know! (For a while I adopted the "thinking pattern" - I hope you know what I mean: I simply thought the way the main character thought.. somewhat paranoid..)

    Olivia de Havilland got an Acadamy Award nomination of for playing Virginia in this film. Ginger Rogers was asked to play the lead but turned it down. Just like Gene Tierney.

Miss de Havilland did a lot of research - as usual. She observed some treatments in mental institutions and attended some events for the patients like dances etc..

  • When Virginia (Olivia de Haviland) and Robert (Mark Stevens) go to see a movie you can hear the 20th Century Fox fanfare - guess which studio produced "The Snake Pit"! (Yes! Good guess!)

    There are some differences between the book and the movie, but it is not THAT bad..

  • Watch out for: Celeste Holm in her 5.Movie, Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie the Pooh), Betsy Blair (she played the female lead in "Marty" and was at this time Mrs Gene Kelly) and Ruth Donnelly (she plays Jean Arthurs' roommate Mabel Dawson in "Mr. Deeds goes to town") as inmates.


  1. I wanted to see this movie, now that you said is one of the best you ever saw, I'mm gonna watch it soon :)

  2. Well, I really like it. It is quite disturbing - and I cry sometimes: All this poor people in the asylum!
    Watch out for Sterling Holloway (Winnie the Pooh's original voice - Film NOT TV Series!) - he plays one of the inmates.


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